Amusement Park: So Where Are the Smiling Faces?

While growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, I became tired of hearing my parents say that “happiness comes from within.”  My first boss after college graduation reminded me that “90% of our happiness comes from how we respond to events, not the events themselves.”

As irritating as that was to me then, they have been proven correct time and again.  We see many instances of the wealthy and famous who keep searching for more, something they can’t quite grasp.  Unfortunately, this futile search for happiness outside of oneself was evident last Saturday among us more ordinary people.

My girlfriend’s company was having its annual day at Kings Island amusement park which is north of Cincinnati.  I worked there during my college summers in the park’s second through fifth years.  I had been back on a few occasions, but not on a regular basis.  It wasn’t until she pointed out something that I realized that more than the park’s rides had changed.  Despite all of the new attractions added over the years, the general demeanor of the patrons was more of gloom and the stress of endurance instead of joy.  This was especially noticeable with those coming from the water park, the theoretical high point for many!

OK, so it was a hot day, approaching 90 degrees and humid.  But, we had those back then, too.  (My first solo business trip was to Boston during the same part of June, in 1980.  Temperatures were in the 90s across the region.)  Maybe it’s the bad economy and a lack of respect for the Constitution.  If you recall 1973-74, we had to deal with a very uncertain energy situation (Oil Embargo) and a president who tried to be above the law.  (Although, unlike our situation today, he had the decency to step down… But that’s not the subject of this article.)

We must have been a sight — two 50-somethings talking, laughing and holding hands as we walked through the park even though we had to avoid most of the rides because we don’t have the inner ears of astronauts.

To my mother, my deceased father and deceased boss:  You had it right!  The joy of life comes from within a person and between people who enjoy each other’s company, not from the externals.   🙂

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